India Harnaaz Sandhu, 23, the daughter of a lingerie entrepreneur, takes home the crown after beating 108 contestants
India’s Harnaaz Sandhu, 23, has won the Miss Universe competition, ending the odds of a contestant from the world’s largest democracy topping the global competition.
Sandhu, a self-styled yogi, wore a sari to deliver her speech at the final on Wednesday in Las Vegas, Nevada, accepting the crown from Miss Universe 2017, Paulina Vega.
She had previously won the Miss Globe India competition, a national pageant.
“I can’t even go through 10 seconds of my whole life without yoga,” Sandhu said on stage at the Bally’s Convention Center, where the Miss Universe pageant has been held for four decades.
“It’s not something I woke up with. I didn’t choose it. It just came to me like that. For me, it’s about what you want to do with your life, who you are and what you can give the world.”
Sandhu, from the southern city of Hyderabad, hails from a humble background. She is the daughter of Roopesh Joshi, an unassuming lingerie entrepreneur who had never competed in beauty pageants before his daughter took to the field.
During the Miss Universe contest, Sandhu danced to the music of music legend Nina Simone. The singer and activist, whose protest album Education, Education, Education won the Grammy award for best contemporary classical album in 1995, has spoken out against racism and misogyny in music and popular culture.
Pageant officials have said they are concerned about Sandhu’s parents’ hereditary infertility, an issue common in south India. Her father has two daughters and four sons from his first marriage, and the family has never been able to conceive a child.
Sandhu can look forward to a $100,000 (£78,000) pay rise for her beauty contract, as well as the chance to represent India at the Miss Universe competition.